PHOTOS BY TERRY WILD STUDIOS
One of the leading reasons for "burn out" in pregnancy care centers and post-abortion ministries is the discouragement that results when clients abort despite understanding the reality of this choice. They may have a hardened heart or feel they are facing impossible circumstances and cannot see any other way out. In working with these individuals, our ministering heart can be broken, leaving us void of knowing how to deal with the pain. Unless we can handle these tough times, many of us won't last long in this movement. It's important to be prepared for whatever outcome may occur and trust the Lord to move in these women's lives despite a possible abortion tragedy.
The Lord's Plan in TragedyI remember a day while ministering at Focus on the Family when two women I had spoken with chose abortion despite knowing what pain they would face, overshadowing the choice of a caller who saved her baby's life that same week. One abortion can easily eliminate the joy of hundreds of saved lives.
While driving home, I had a conversation with God. I was angry and asked Him, "WHY??!!! When will you step in, Lord, and stop this bloodshed?" There was no immediate answer, but I was confident that God understood my emotions. Before I reached home, I was determined to find another line of work because the pain was too overwhelming to endure on a constant basis.
During my devotions the next morning, God opened my eyes to why He allowed these tragedies to occur. I started reading about the martyred saints in Revelation 6:9-11:
"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, Oh Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed."
God clearly spoke to my heart that morning. It was easy to identify with the statement of the saints when recalling my own reaction the day before. God comforted them and asked for their patience, because in His plan, more would die before His vengeance would be carried out completely. I believe He wants to give people more time to turn to Him first.
I realized since He created all life, God knew before they were conceived which children would be aborted. He asked me to trust Him in spite of the lost lives. My role wasn't to be successful in turning hearts towards a decision for life — that was the Lord's job. I had no right to question His will for these lives! My role was to be patient and obedient. Maybe this woman would be the next person God would use to save other lives.
Stirring EmotionsWhen you work with a woman who aborts despite your Christ-like efforts, you need to understand that you have become, in a sense, post-abortive. You had a heart-connection to the aborted child through your prayers on her behalf. While you had nothing to do with her actual death, it is normal to experience some aspects of post-abortion trauma. These stirring emotions are unexpected but need to be embraced to help you mourn this lost child.
Grief — Give Yourself Permission"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." I Peter 1:6-7
When a mother aborts anyway, a child you prayed for has died. This abortion was not a secret from you or from God, even though it may have been for others directly related to that child's mother and father. God has given you the opportunity to embrace this grief. Doesn't this child deserve to be mourned? You may be the only other person who knows about the child's death, so God is allowing you the opportunity to honor this child through your tears. Embrace the anguish and understand that this emotion is precious to the Lord and has a purpose in your walk with Him. It will eventually help build your faith and help you become a more effective tool in the future.
Anger — Keep ControlIt's a normal human reaction to combat the feelings of grief with anger. Many times you are upset with the woman for making this choice. She knew better and had all the information to understand she was taking the life of a baby. Sometimes your anger can be justified, especially when it relates to unsupportive family members or friends and even abortion providers!
These emotions need to be released in a healthy way. I recommend you write out your feelings in letters you never send. Sharing your anger with a ministry friend is also a good idea. Be careful and remember Proverbs 29:11 — "the fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control."
Forgiveness — It's Not Optional!Jesus said in Matt 6:12, 14-15, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.... For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins." Most times my struggle is to forgive the woman who had the abortion. We are not responsible for anyone's emotions but our own. Forgiveness is an act of the will and impacts one's intimate relationship with God. The act of forgiving is not optional as relayed by Jesus in His sample prayer, which we refer to as the Lord's Prayer. While you may not be called to continue ministering to her heart, your sincerity in forgiving her and others who have caused this hurt is critical.
Releasing Them to the LordIt takes only one abortion to belittle your confidence. Satan loves to make us feel guilty and discouraged by whispering to our hearts that it is our fault this child has died. We've all heard the enemy's accusations — "Just give up. You are horrible at helping, and the blood of that child is on your hands!" These thoughts come straight from the pit of hell and need to be treated as such!
In working with these clients, build your responses within those outlined in Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control." You might be the only person praying for them in the years to come, so be sure to remember them when the Holy Spirit places them on your heart. Encourage yourself that they could someday experience a Saul-to-Paul transformation! Be sure that you invite them to church and are willing to provide transportation. Many times the abortion can be the tool God uses to lead them to Himself! Even in the short amount of time you have with them, allow them to see Jesus through you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sydna A. Massé is the president and founder of Ramah International. This article was adapted from Ramah's Voice — May/June 02. A longer version of this article is available in brochure form at www.ramahinternational.org.